En español | There are few things more annoying than the unexpected beep in your ear that means your hearing aid battery is about to go dead. This is especially true if you don't happen to have any spares.
Even in controlled studies, the life of a hearing aid battery has proven unpredictable. A 2013 report on wireless hearing aids in Audiology Online found that the real-life performance of most of the batteries tested deviated significantly from the standardized measurements reported by the manufacturers.
A battery for larger or non-wireless hearing aids may last two weeks, while another one for smaller or wireless hearing aids may last just two or three days. In some cases, the battery may be defective, but battery life also depends on the kind of hearing aid you have, how you use it, the kind of batteries you buy, and the assistive-listening devices you may use.
Among the factors that reduce battery viability are the kind of features that come with high-end hearing aids, such as feedback canceling and noise reduction programs. The real battery sapper, however, is wireless streaming. Audiology Online found that the difference between consumption during "normal" use and in streaming mode was nearly double. For instance, if you are using your hearing aid to stream the audio from your TV, your battery is likely to go dead twice as fast. Adding to the confusion, however, is the fact that this varies depending on the device being used.
Here are some tips for getting longer life out of your batteries — and saving money.
- Don't open too soon. Hearing aid batteries come in sealed packs with plastic tabs on the back of each battery. Don't remove the tab until you are ready to insert the battery. As soon as the back of the battery comes into contact with air, it is activated and begins using energy.
- Store batteries properly. Keep unused batteries in a cool, dry place. Extreme temperatures and moisture may shorten their life.
- Use clean hands. Wash your hands before changing the battery, because grease and dirt can damage the hearing aid.
- Open the battery door at night. When your hearing aid is not being used, opening the battery door will not only minimize battery drain but also spare your family and pets the whine of a hearing aid that hasn't been switched off.
- Check the sell-by date. You want batteries to last a while before using, but keep in mind — even unopened batteries eventually will deteriorate, so don't buy more than you can use up in a year.
- Try out different brands. To help you evaluate which brand works best and longest with your hearing aid, consider a Microbattery.com trial pack of eight brands, or about 48 batteries total, which can help you evaluate which brand works best and longest with your hearing aid. They cost about $25, depending on the selection.
- Shop around. Battery prices can differ significantly. If the price is sharply discounted, make sure it isn't because the battery pack is almost out of date. Drugstores, big-box stores like Costco and Walmart, and electronics stores all sell hearing aid batteries. You can check for the best prices online.
- Try these two gadgets. A keychain battery caddy is a handy, inexpensive holder for keeping spare batteries with you. They are available through several online retailers, including one for less than $2 from Harris Communications. The other must-have gadget is a battery tester. These vary in quality, but they can show you if the battery you are about to install is dead or dying. Some of the more expensive models will show you how much battery life is left.
- Consider rechargeables. Rechargeable hearing aid batteries are beginning to come on the market, but there are caveats to whether they'll work in your hearing aid. It's worth reading Audiology Online's Ask the Experts feature "Can I Put a Rechargeable Battery in My Hearing Aid?" before you try them.
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